November 8, 2011

Mountain Masochist 50+ Mile Trail Run - Race Report

Back Story

I signed up for the Mountain Masochist Trail Run (MMTR) on the day registration opened back in the beginning of May. At that point, my trail running season was at its peak. I had done much of my training on trails throughout the spring when temperatures were still mild, wildflowers were abundant and pesky insects (deerflies) were rare. Coming off of a great training period for Running Fit’s Trail Marathon which culminated in a win, I was eager for a new trail challenge! I thought MMTR, which had been highly praised by several friends, would be the race for me! My first ultramarathon!

Spring turned into summer and heat and humidity became oppressive. The deerflies came out of hiding and trail running became less enjoyable. Come July, I developed a bad overuse injury in my shin and was out for 3 weeks with no running at all. Upon returning to running, I knew I had to ease back in to prevent reinjury. Plus, I had to keep to soft, smooth and flat surfaces. This kept me away from trails even more and also made me realize there would be no way to put in the training I thought I’d need to even give me a legitimate chance of completing a tough 50+ mile trail run. I had to make a tough decision. Since running a fast road marathon (Detroit) was a priority and required a much smaller volume of training, I made a conscious decision to focus on road running and speed and hope that pure grit and determination would get me through MMTR, which was three weeks after the Detroit Marathon.

The more I ran roads, the less I missed trail running though it may be fair to point out the roads around where I live are unpaved, hilly, wooded and beautiful, many passing by lakes, streams, ponds and park land and often only sparsely populated. The roads are very much like very wide trails, though without the deerflies and hunters! Training for Detroit went well and my injury did not recur. I was excited and confident about the upcoming race.

Marathon day arrived and I toed the line with the goal of breaking 3:10. I thought I was probably capable of a 3:07-3:08 if I had a good day since all my build-up races put me in this time frame. Well, I had a good day. No, I had an unbelievable day! I started out with the 3:10 pace group, but left them very early and 22-23 miles into the race, ended up passing the 3:05 pace group and finished with a totally unexpected 3:03! Still giddy about that!

So now my key race for the year was out of the way and I suddenly realized that my race calendar still had one more race on it and it was a DOOZY!! I had NOT trained for MMTR. I had trained for a fast road marathon, not a mountainous, trail ultramarathon! Would I even have a chance of finishing?? The furthest I’d ever run was 26.2 miles. The longest I’d ever run was 3 hrs and 30-something minutes on somewhat hilly terrain, but not MOUNTAINS!! Yikes!!

My lack of training actually left me with little anxiety about the race. This may seem counterintuitive, but since I was not looking at this as a key race, I would not be devastated if I didn’t finish. I knew I could bow out at any time if things took a turn for the worse and I could try again some other time when I was more prepared. But I had paid for registration, so I might as well give it a try.

Off to Virginia!

After 11 hours of slowly watching flat Midwestern farmland morph into true majestic mountains covered with trees colored by autumn’s best, we finally pulled in to the Kirkley Hotel. We arrived with time to pick up our packets at the Aid Station to avoid the line on Friday night. That also allowed us to prepare all our gear on Friday early so everything was ready to go before the pre-race dinner even began. That made the dinner more enjoyable since one big chore/worry was already out of the way.

Dinner was over, my alarm was set for 3:30 AM and I crawled into bed expecting a night of running nightmares, from which I was mercifully spared! No dreams of going off course. No dreams of being late for the bus! No dreams of not being able to find my bib, shoes, socks, etc.!! My morning began well!

The bus ride to the start was pleasant enough. Since I was on a designated shuttle bus, once we arrived at the James River Visitor Center, I had to disembark and cram into another bus to keep warm until my own bus returned. This was only a slight annoyance as I at least had a spot at the front of the bus and was able to lean against the railing. If I had been forced to stand in the aisle, I imagine I would have been one grumpy little redhead. Again, I was spared unpleastantry. Another good sign.

The Race Begins!

As 6:30 AM approached, I somewhat reluctantly (because it was COLD) and somewhat excitedly (the race was starting!) removed myself from the warm bus and headed to the starting line. After some mumbled words from the megaphone which I hoped were not important, we were OFF!!!

I am a road runner primarily. Probably the biggest issue with transitioning to ultra distances for me is learning to run slowly. I like speed. I knew I couldn’t have speed during the race. Would I miss it? Would I go out too fast? As it turned out, fate intervened and I was unable to run fast for the first 5-7 miles of the race anyway. I wore a headlamp and a Spibelt that I’d never used before, breaking one of the cardinal rules of distance racing – never use untested equipment!! I knew better. I did it anyway. I paid. Though in retrospect, perhaps the equipment problems that slowed me down kept me from blowing myself up! I choose to look at it that way, at least.

The problems I had were the same for both the headlamp and belt. I couldn’t make them small enough! How many people have this problem??? I ended up taking off the headlamp and carrying it to the first aid station where they had a drop box for headlamps. Didn’t really need it anyway, as it turned out. The Spibelt was a minor annoyance the entire race, but I needed something to carry gels, bars, Gatorade powder packets, etc. Time to experiment with other types of “stuff” carriers, I guess.

Once I dropped off the headlamp, I felt relieved and able to focus on the race. Also after the first aid station, we left pavement for good until the last ¾ mile. We hit a trail and started climbing, and climbing we would continue to do for much of the race. During this initial climb, my husband, Matt, and I passed our pal, Rick, for the last time. We’d been doing a little bit of leap frogging due to a few early potty breaks.

The next 30 or so miles were wonderful. I felt strong. I ate and drank well. I enjoyed the scenery. I did take more potty breaks than I had hoped, but when you gotta go… The biggest difficulty I had was numbness in my fingers. I had great difficulty manipulating my drawstrings on my capris during bathroom breaks and could barely tear open my gels!

I stayed with Matt most of the time and walked all significant inclines and ran all the flats (what few there were!) and downhills and the slight inclines. I took note when I had run further than I’d ever run before (26.2 miles) and also when I’d raced longer than I’d ever raced before(4:54). You have to take note of milestones! Every time the road flattened out and I could start running, I continued to be amazed that I was not only ABLE to run, but that it really wasn’t that difficult!

Many others say the MMTR race really starts when you pass the halfway point and start the real climbs. I beg to differ. I still had a lot of energy at that point and climbing was not an issue. For me, the real mental battle began at “The Loop”. It is hard to say exactly what our distance was at the beginning of The Loop, since mileage at MMTR is a bit of an ongoing joke. If a section is marked as 2.9 miles, it may very well be 5 miles in reality! The Loop may have been at about 35 miles into the race. It started out pleasantly – we moved from road back onto a lovely section of very runnable singletrack. “Wonderful!” I thought. But it didn’t last long. Soon the relatively smooth surface turned into jagged boulders of all shapes and sizes with sharp edges. Plus, the trail once again started going UP and meandered in an unpredictable fashion! My poor little unprotected toes took quite a beating and I started feeling tired for the first time.

I thought I’d be relieved when the trail started going down, but no. The down may have been even more treacherous since the rocks remained but were often covered with leaves that made the smaller ones undetectable. No running this downhill section! It took total concentration and was exhausting.

I finally emerged from The Loop and stopped to rest for a few short minutes at the aid station. I ate, drank and refilled my bottle. The volunteers were amazing, as they were at every aid station. I was drained but moved on. As soon as I started running back on the gravel roads, I started feeling better. Matt and I had been running our own paces for the past 10 miles or so and were not always together. He had passed me in The Loop, but had slowed down to let me catch up with him when he finished The Loop. I caught him maybe a half mile later and we stayed together the rest of the race.

Even though I was feeling better, “better” was still relative! I was tired. My legs were sore. My left hip flexor was bugging me and my knees were achy. Nothing was so bad that I considered stopping. I knew that the real mental battle was just beginning.

More uphill. You’ve got to be kidding. Not only was it uphill, but it was STEEP – the steepest section we’d encountered so far (or did it just seem that way coming so late in the race?!). Not only was it steep, but it was rock and leaf-covered. Really!? So up the hill we trudged, slipping backward on the leaves a little with nearly every step. It seemed neverending. But it did end. Mercifully.

Then came another nice section of runnable singletrack. It was leaf-covered still and there were rocks hidden, but with care, one could run it successfully. Matt and I did run it, and we were nearly successful. We were very near the end of the race at this point, maybe mile 46-48, and we were running along with Matt in front when a hidden rock came out of nowhere and slammed into my left big toe. I screamed. Tears welled up in my eyes. For about 30 seconds I was sure it was broken. Then emotion overtook me and a staunch determination. I didn’t care if it were broken, I was finishing this race, damn it!!! Tears streaming down my face, I motioned to Matt to keep going. I couldn’t even talk at that point, I could only wave him on.

The next half mile I limped along in a pseudo-run, but the pain subsided a bit and eventually I was able to run somewhat normally. There were a few more times when I softly tapped the toe against other rocks which made me scream in pain again, but I gritted my teeth and kept going. I was so emotionally and physically spent, I just wanted the race to be OVER! Matt kept asking me if I wanted to walk a little, but walking was the furthest from my mind. I wanted to go FASTER and be DONE! During this final downhill section, I also started to get chilled again. My fingers were frozen. I needed that finish line badly!

When I saw the “one mile” to go mark painted on the ground, I had a renewed energy. A quarter mile later when we hit pavement again, you never would have known I had over 50 miles already behind me. I wish I knew my exact pace, but I’m betting I did a 7:30 minute mile at minimum, probably faster.

Crossing the finish line in Montebello was one of the most emotional and satisfying experiences of my life. I’m still not sure it has really dawned on me what I accomplished. People talk about completing a marathon being a feat that some tiny percentage of the population will ever do and here I was covering a distance of more than double a marathon in the mountains! 9200 feet up and 7200 feet down!

Matt and I crossed the line together, officially one second apart. 10 hours and 31 minutes. We were nearly 1 ½ hours ahead of the cutoff! We were 93 and 94 out of about 230 finishers. Definitely something to be proud of. Not only did we finish, but we finished ahead of the curve!

After throwing on some warm clothing, getting a bit to eat and inspecting my battered toe, we watched for Rick to come through the finish. After celebratory hugs, Rick had me reach into his Nathan pack and pull out my reward, a “50” pendant necklace! I think I like the necklace more than the Finisher shirt from the race itself!

Following a VERY long bus ride back to the Kirkley, we cleaned up and headed to the post-race meal and awards presentation. At dinner, I kept thinking that I was glad I did the race, but I’d never do another 50. I should have known better. I said the same thing after my first marathon. The very next morning, I was thinking about which 50 would be next, though I still swore I’d never do MMTR again. Another morning came and I decided that I not only wanted to do MMTR again, but I wanted to break 10 hours next time and even started making plans on how to do it!

A few stats:

MMTR 2011 Nutrition
6 Hammer gels
2 Clif Shot Bloks
3-4 pieces potato
3-4 fig newtons
2 small bologna/cheese sandwiches
2 small PB&J sandwiches
1 ginger snap
1 piece oatmeal crème cookie
½ banana
4 wafer cookie pieces
3 S-Caps
~6 oz cola
~45 oz Gatorade

Weather – high 30s to start, high of low to mid-50s, sunny, got very cold again near the end.
I never removed my gloves and my fingers were numb and unresponsive for much of race.

Clothing – capris, short-sleeved Brooks tech shirt, arm sleeves, thin gloves, PI headband/ear warmer, Injinji toe socks and Brooks Launch shoes – the shoe/sock combo was a great choice! I had not a single blister or hot spot during the race. I only rarely wished for better traction and, of course, really wished for a toe bumper after the rock incident. Ouch.

Gear – Nathan handheld, double-pouch Spibelt and Petzl Tikka

Terrain – Pavement, gravel roads, old logging roads and two track, technical singletrack with large, sharp rocks/boulders, less technical singletrack with leaf-covered smaller rocks, some very small stream crossings

September 10, 2011

Best Birthday Present Ever!!

Matt told me right before bed last night that we had to be ready "to go" at 10:30 am the next morning. I said, "Ready to go where?" He wouldn't answer. I got suspicious. He finally said he was gonna get me a little "treat". With my birthday a few days away, I decided to leave it at that...

10:30 am comes and I'm ready to go get my "treat". Matt sends me out to the car and tells me to wait for him there. More suspicion grows. He finally comes down and tells me not to look at what he's putting in the car. Huh?? What's this got to do with a "treat"? I go with it and don't ask questions.

Matt starts driving and heads for the expressway. Wow. We're going a long way it seems? But then he gets off just a few exits later. More confusion. Now I realize we're heading to Clarkston. Trying to throw me off by taking the freeway? Maybe. He parks next to the Clarkston Union - nice restaurant. I realize we're in the Kinetic Systems Bike Shop parking lot and wonder aloud if our friend, John, is working today. Matt finally tells me my "treat" is lunch at the Union. Cool!

On our way to the Union, Matt veers and says, "Hey, you wanna go see if John's there real quick?" Okay, sure. I've never been in the shop and wouldn't mind checking it out anyway. Drool over bikes and such. We walk in and sure enough, John is there. We chat just a little bit and then Matt tells John to go ahead and get the bike. Wait a minute... WHAT BIKE???? The next thing I know, John wheels out a 2012 Specialized Comp Apex cyclocross bike in MY SIZE! Are you kidding me?! Then I cried.

Matt totally had me fooled. John and Jaime never even dropped the tiniest hint. Apparently Jaime was the model for sizing. John sized her and then got the next size smaller. And the secret stash of stuff Matt put in the car just before we left (which I had totally forgotten about) was my cycling shoes and a pair of cycling shorts so John could adjust the fit of the bike while I was there.


Apparently I'm not supposed to go out and do a century ride on the first day with a new bike. Darn!! John said to ease into it with short 10-12 milers to start out. I did almost 16 as soon as I got it home, but who's counting.  ;-)  What a sweet, smooth ride! Didn't take much to get used to the shifting, handling and braking which are so much different than a mountain bike. So very happy with Ride #1 and already looking foward to Ride #2.

Now I just need to come up with a name for my bike. :-)

A few photos...

2012 Specialized CruX Comp Apex

First Mud
CruX Comp Apex

June 23, 2011

Wonderful Failure

Did you ever have a workout that did not go anywhere close to what you had planned but you still felt great about it? I just had one of those! When I finished, it made me think of how, as runners, we need to be adaptable with our workouts (even in the middle of them!), since sh!t happens. ;-)

This workout actually took on a life all its own as it morphed and developed along the way. I had to alter it several times during the course of the run. Originally I was going to run 2 x 3 mile intervals at ~6:50 min/mile. The beginning went great. First two miles were 6:45 and 6:45. I felt amazing. So good, in fact, that by mile 2 1/2 I decided to skip the recovery mile and simply do a 6 mile tempo run. I had a rhythm going and didn't want to break it. Mile 3 was 6:43 and I still felt super strong. By the middle of mile 4 I started feeling a side stitch. ARGH! It wasn't bad at first and I was hoping it'd go away, but I decided that if it was still around at the end of mile 4, I'd take that recovery mile I skipped earlier. I finished mile 4 in 6:39. I was getting faster!! But the stitch was getting more intense and I couldn't ignore it anymore, so I slowed down.

I still wanted to get in 6 miles at tempo pace, so after my one mile recovery, during which the side stitch mercifully disappeared, I picked my pace back up, intending to finish those last 2 miles. Since I was doing this workout as an out and back on the Paint Creek Trail, I turned around during the recovery mile and was heading back toward home. The out is very slightly downhill, which means on the return, I go back up. The only time I ever notice the incline is during speedwork/tempo runs, so of course, it got me today. I tried to keep up the same pace I had during the first 4 mile pick-up, but I was hurting after just one mile which I did in 6:53. I pushed myself an extra half mile (3:28) then had to recover again - I was getting pretty wobbly! This time I let myself take only a half mile recovery and then picked up the pace one last time. The final push was only a mile and that mile was all I had left (6:44)! I finished feeling exhausted but proud! With a 2 mile warm-up and 2 mile cool-down, I did a total of 12 miles today. Happy.

Close encounters of the feathered kind: At the very end of the PCT, just as I was about to turn the corner and head to my condo building, I got DIVE BOMBED by a red-winged blackbird!! The nerve!!! I know these guys are uber-territorial and just plain bratty and I've had them hover 5 feet above my head screeching at me before, but this guy went way beyond that! He swooped down to within inches of my head! I felt the swooosh! And he did it TWICE! Sheeesh!!! You'd think the crazy birds would be wise enough not to build nests so close to well-traveled trails!

I had no such problems with the cute little spotted fawn I saw frolicking on the trail earlier in the run. Awwwww.... :-)

June 19, 2011

Stony Creek Metropark - 18 Mile Training Run


I did a long run today and it was miserable. I figured I should post my thoughts on it so maybe I can learn from my failures. Though now that I think about it, this run wasn't really a failure. I did complete an 18 mile training run in hot weather. How many people can do that? :-) Now I feel better.

Stony Creek Metropark 18-mile training run - 3 loops on the paved hike/bike path around the lake.

First loop went pretty well. First mile was 8:20ish and second was 7:40ish. The next two were in the 7:30s, but I still felt good. Finished that loop okay. The only problem was the Fuel Belt bugging my GI system. I took off the belt, consumed a gel (Accel) and drank some Gatorade. I decided to simply hold one of my small Fuel Belt bottles for the next loop which I wanted to do at around 7:15s.

I started out loop 2 feeling pretty good and feeling pretty fast. I finished the first mile in 7:20-something, slower than I thought I was going. The second mile was also in the 7:20s but included the big hill. Kept up the effort into mile 3 but crashed hard in the middle of it. Ugh. Tried slowing the pace, but that didn't help. I ended up walking. I continued to run/walk until I reached Babylon (the brook). I was feeling icky - my hands were sticky, my face was sticky and I needed chapstick. At the brook I washed my hands and face in the water and rinsed off the sticky bottle. There was nothing I could do about my lips, but I still felt a lot better. I sat down and rested a little while - maybe 5 minutes at most. I then continued on at a slow run and was able to finish the loop.

I contemplated stopping after those 12 miles, but realized I shouldn't. Even walking the final loop would be better than quitting. I downed a LOT of Gatorade (I must have been very dehydrated even though I was drinking regularly), took another gel and rested a bit. I swapped out the small Fuel Belt bottle for a large Camelbak bottle once I realized how dehydrated I had become. I took off at a walk.

I didn't think I'd be able to run for a while since I drank so much, but the fluids absorbed super quickly! I made myself walk the entire first mile and then started running again - slowly. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would! I was able to continue running until I got to the new drinking fountain at about mile 3.5. I was almost out of Gatorade anyway, so I dumped out what was left and refilled with water. I ended up squirting about half the bottle on my back, so had to refill again! I drank a LOT of water (it was nice and cold!!) and so had to walk again when I took off. I walked for about another mile and then started running again and finished the loop feeling pretty good!

This was a TOUGH run. I'm glad I pushed through and at least did 18 of 20 miles I had originally intended. The heat got me. I wonder if running my "easy" run two days ago MUCH too quickly (big surprise) also left me with too little energy for such a hard training run. I also think I may not have drank enough yesterday while sitting around in the heat at Lumberjack. Lots of factors. Who knows what really happened. May also have just been a bad day.

June 11, 2011

Flirt with Dirt 10k - Yeah, that went pretty well... ;-)

I was cocky enough to go into Trail Marathon telling everyone I was going to win, and I did. I knew better than to do the same for a shorter distance, like Flirt with Dirt 10k this morning. I figured someone faster would surely show up! She didn't. I won again!! That's 2 out of 2 so far for the Serious Series. Now I'm feeling the pressure to win The Legend Half Marathon and make it a Serious Series SWEEP. That'd be WAY sweet!!

I learned four years ago to go out fast at Flirt because there are not many opportunities to pass. This is the tightest singletrack I've ever raced on. It isn't very hilly, nor very technical, just TIGHT! Always changing direction! I love the trail! It is very unique.

The few times I got behind someone, he was going at just the right pace to keep me from overdoing it. I used that to my advantage to keep myself from blowing up. I set goals, telling myself, "Once I get to mile 2, start looking for a passing opportunity." Then I'd pass, catch up with the next guy and let him pace me for a while until I hit another mile marker. Then I'd pass, catch up with the next guy, rinse and repeat. It worked great! Trail race strategy is so much different than road race strategy! That's why I consider them two very different sports.

The most amusing part of the day was when Randy went to read Matt's name for his age group award. Instead of saying his name, Randy called him, "Paula's Husband." lol!!!!!!!!

Super fun time and great seeing so many pals!!!

June 8, 2011

Oakland University - 1st Treadmill Trial

Today was my first treadmill trial at OU. I took my "mystery drug" 2 hours before the start and showed up at the lab ready to run. They took all sorts of bodily fluids from me before we started and attached an HR monitor and body core temp reader to me (which read the sensor I swallowed earlier). They set da 'mill at 6.3 mph which is 60% my max speed from my VO2 max test and I ran for exactly one hour. Then they took more samples and I did a performance trial which was similar to my VO2 max test sans headgear/facemask and heavy tubing which made it MUCH easier! I maxed out at 10.8 mph for 1 min after having the speed bumped up 0.5 mph every minute. Total time for performance trial - 10 minutes. More samples taken and then I had to donate my clothes (which will be returned) and got all the sweat rinsed off me (COLD!!!).

I felt totally fine during the treadmill trial. Oddly enough, after rinsing the sweat off, toweling dry and dressing, I started to overheat pretty badly. I had to sit down with a fan right on me and have some ice applied to the back of my neck. I sucked down quite a bit of Gatorade too. It only took a few minutes to get back to normal.

I'm going to have to guess the capsule I took is the placebo unless the diuretic and anti-diuretic are so mild that I wouldn't notice their effects, which I suppose is entirely possible. I didn't feel any different during the trial. Didn't need to urinate, didn't feel excessively thirsty, didn't feel bloated - just normal. We'll see if I can tell a difference during the next trial!

June 1, 2011

Characters and Dirt Roads

I picked up my "mystery drug packet" today at Oakland University for the study I'm participating in with Dr. Tamara Hew. I'm discovering more and more how much of a character Dr. Hew is. She signed off her last email to me with, "giggles and grins." When I walked in to her office, she was wearing a bright red Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat sweatshirt. She had bunny Easter peeps on top of her filing cabinet decorated and in different poses. She also had placed stickers all over our drug packets. Cute. :-) She truly is a character. I like her a lot!

I was given explicit instructions not to store the drug packet in a metal container. Then I got thinking... once I swallow the drugs and the core temp sensor, I'll be sitting in a metal container (car) for quite a while on my drive to the university! Hmmm... ;-)

After picking up my drugs and getting my strength training out of the way, it was time to celebrate National Running Day!! I had a great run, almost perfect. The only tiny little mar in an otherwise perfect run was a nagging sore hamstring. Little bugger. The weather finally feels like late Spring, sunny and warm (but not too warm) so I strapped on my Fuel Belt and headed out for a middle distance run on my beloved dirt back roads. I'm so very spoiled by these roads. The traffic is very light to non-existant, the scenery is lovely with lots of trees, wildlife and wildflowers, ponds, marshes, lakes, farms and fields... Even though my singletrack is still muddy and partially underwater in spots due to all the rain this spring, the roads are so trail-like I hardly miss it.

Happy Running!

May 27, 2011

I've become a lab rat!

Today I had my V02 Max test at Oakland University in preparation for a study I'll be participating in as a runner. The proposed title for this study is:

Revisiting the Human Sweat Gland - Does arginine vasopressin modulate sweat sodium concentration via the V2 receptor?

I realize that is mumbo-jumbo to many, but most runners have probably heard of hyponatremia. Dr Tamara Hew-Butler's continuing research could go a long way toward understanding this condition and helping runners prevent it.

I was allowed to warm up at my leisure, so I ran on the treadmill in the lab for a little over 10 minutes at about 6.5 mph, then stepped off the treadmill and had the scary mask from hell put on my head. It was a mask that collected and measured all the gases I exhaled. As big and bizarre and heavy as it was, it actually did not bother me too much during the test.

The test had me start at 5.5 mph and then the speed was increased by 0.5 mph every minute until I could not go any longer. Since I couldn't talk with the mask on, it was a thumbs up or thumbs down to signal if I wanted to keep going. I made it 11 minutes, the final minute at 10.5 mph before I had to stop. My VO2 max was 57.6. They were hoping to get my HR too, but the HR monitor didn't work. Bummer.

The best part about it was that the longer I went, the more the five people there helping cheered me on. During the last 3-4 minutes, they were shouting their lungs out for me! It was great!! I bet that doesn't happen during most VO2 max tests!!

I'll be back in the lab on three more occasions. These three runs will be entirely different. No more VO2 max testing. Instead they'll be measuring my urine, sweat, blood and saliva after making me run for an hour and then undergoing a "performance trial". All this is after being given a diuretic, anti-diuretic or plecebo pill along with an ingestible core temperature sensor. I won't know which pill I'll be taking and neither will the researcher. Very cool. I'm very excited about this study and getting the chance to participate!

May 22, 2011

Back the the Beach Half Marathon

Shitty race. No, wait. The race was great. I just performed horribly.

Here are a few things NOT to do before and during a half marathon:
  1. Don't run a marathon 3 weeks previous, hike 34.5 miles 2 weeks previous, then do a 26.4 mile training run 1 week previous.
  2. Don't do 2 tough bike rides in the 2 days before the race especially when you haven't been biking regularly for a while.
  3. Don't do your first mile in 6:46 when you intended to go out at 7:05 (granted, I had no idea I was doing a 6:46 pace), then fail to correct yourself and do mile 3 in 6:40.

Temps and humidity that I hadn't acclimated to yet due to our wonderful spring weather also played a part, I'm sure.

Hit the wall around mile 9.5ish. Had to walk/run from there. Never thought I'd hit the wall during a half!!  I was in the lead for 9.5 miles and ended up finishing 6th. That says it all.

Joe and his amazing team of organizers and volunteers did an incredible job. This race will grow. It has to. It is great. I have not a single complaint. I'm just filled with praise for what they accomplished.

March 28, 2011

This run almost struck out...

Strike One - Headed down the Paint Creek Trail for an out-and-back recovery run. The trail was in horrible shape, so I detoured up the short section of singletrack to hit Kern Rd, across Orion to Stoney Creek Rd.

Strike Two - Since I was passing by Bald Mountain's trails, I ran down to see what shape they were in. BAD. Covered with ice and snow still. Terrible footing. No fun. I turned around and stuck to back roads for the rest of the run.

Fortunately there was no strike three. :-)

This run followed on the tail of two intense days of training. Saturday - 20 mile long run with pal, Fritz, at Kensington Metropark. Tough run. Good physical and mental training.

Sunday - 50 mile (3 1/2 hour) training ride on mountain bikes in preparation for Lumberjack 100 in June. Dreading this race more and more.

So today was a recovery day. Easy run just shy of 9 miles. Felt good on the legs, though I am ready for spring to actually feel like spring. It was 25 degrees out there today. *sigh*

March 23, 2011

The Cold Won Run

I've read that running with a head cold is okay, as long as it hasn't moved into the chest. I tried it today. Didn't work very well. At one point, the sinus pressure even made my teeth ache. I hate that. And I even had a decongestant and antihistamine on board. I suppose it probably would have been much worse without the drugs. Anyway, back home now to lots of liquids and rest. If I'm gonna have a cold, I guess now is a good time considering the crappy "spring" weather we're having up here in Michigan. Still, I managed 4.5 easy miles on the treadmill. I'll take it.

March 20, 2011

Pacing - Just Do It!

Last weekend I ran a 23k trail race on a moderately technical singletrack in Kentucky - the Land Between the Lakes Trail Race. I ran as hard as I could since I was going for the win, which I missed by 15 minutes! Ack! I was 2nd overall - quite a gap between the two of us. I really didn't stand a chance. First place was a superstar!

Today I had another race! This one was a road half marathon - the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon in Grosse Ile, MI. It was the inaugural running of this race, which raised money for cystic fibrosis research. The race was incredible, so well-organized with great volunteers, well-marked courses, ample, well-stocked aid stations and amazing post-race chow (Panera bagels!). You really would never know it was their first year!

Having raced last weekend, I knew it wasn't reasonable to expect I'd be at my best today. I really wanted to support Rock CF, so I was going to participate regardless, but I figured I'd just have to make it a training run. Well, I found an even better solution. I became a pacer!!

I knew my friend Jaime had a specific goal in mind for this race. I also knew her goal time would be pretty easy for me. Problem solved. Pace Jaime! Of course, I'd never done it before, so I knew it'd be a great mental exercise for me. It takes a lot of concentration to keep even splits, especially when the pace is pretty easy. I was proud of myself, but even more proud of Jaime. She struggled through the last few miles, but came in under her goal time. Our goal was to go sub 1:40 and we finished at 1:39:24. How bout that!?  :-)

It was immensely satisfying helping someone else achieve her goal. I think I even enjoyed it more than racing for myself! This pacing thing - highly recommended!

I even came in 2nd in my AG and got a nifty coffee mug as a prize. Ha! :-)

March 13, 2011

Land Between the Lakes 23K - Race Report

Land Between the Lakes - sunset evening before race

Western Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes recreation area was an amazing setting for my first trail race of the year. The little town of Grand Rivers hosted the race and welcomed racers with open arms. The people were friendly, open and helpful. The weather was amazing – race day saw temperatures ranging from around 50 degrees to start and rose to a high in the mid-70s. The snow was long gone and the daffodils were already in bloom! Considering our drive down began on roads still slick from a mid-March snowstorm, the weather was a welcome relief. After the race, I was very reluctant to leave!

We stayed at America’s Best Value Inn which was minutes away from the race start at a price that couldn’t be beat. Our pre-race dinner was at the Yacht Club at the Green Turtle Bay Resort. Apparently they usually only allow guests and members to dine there, but made an exception for us since we came down for the race. The employees were so welcoming! The food was great!  Kentucky has not yet gone smoke-free, so that was the only mar on the evening’s dining. I couldn’t wear my sweatshirt again after that night due to the reek! Ick!

There was plenty of parking near the race start and we had no problems figuring out where to go. The community center was open already so we had someplace warm to stand around before race time. The RD got the race going right on time. Being in the shortest race, I had no trouble finding a spot to stand near the front so I could get ahead of the slower runners. The first 1.7 miles were on asphalt as we headed toward the singletrack. This part of the race took us over the canal bridge where we were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the lake. Volunteers were friendly and abundant and ushered us on to the trail head with no problems.

That's me in the bright orange crossing the canal bridge!
The beginning of the trail headed under the canal bridge we had just crossed, so I was able to see the tail end of the runners who were still crossing. It was fun to hear them cheering those of us on who had already hit the trail.

The trail itself was singletrack perfection. Many times while running I thought to myself, I’ve GOT to get my mountain bike out here! The trail was moderately technical with many log piles and other obstacles to run/ride over. It was very well maintained. Several times I had lovely views of the lakes. There were many tiny streams that caused dips in the trail, several of which were very steep and deep!  But all the water crossings themselves were narrow enough to leap over, so my feet stayed dry.

Beautiful lake views from the trail!
The first half of the run was on only slightly rolling terrain. The second half had a few challenging hills that I chose to walk up to conserve energy. But I’m getting ahead of myself… I started the race quite fast, too fast actually, but I was lucky and didn’t end up paying a price for that mistake. At the first mile marker, I was at 7:00 almost exactly. Granted much of that was downhill. I wanted my average pace to be around 7:20-7:30, so I slowed down just a bit. With no chance to warm up, my breathing was very labored for the first few fast miles. I got a little concerned, but kept pushing since I figured my lungs would settle down eventually. They did! Once my breathing became easier, I settled into a nice rhythm and really started to enjoy myself. I felt good for the majority of the race. The latter hills started taxing me a bit, but once I started walking them, I felt much better. During the last 3-4 miles, I even got a second wind and picked up the pace quite a bit. I flew on the final paved stretch back to the finish (except when going up the hill on the bridge!). I crossed the finish feeling great and quite happy! I got a fancy finisher’s key chain to add to my collection of awards.

I finished with a very strong time of 1:55 which is very close to what I was hoping for (1:52 – old course record). That time gave me a second place overall finish. The only gal who beat me was 15 minutes faster. She totally blew away the competition and crushed the old course record by 12 minutes. If I’m going to get beat, I prefer to get beat badly! ha!  :-)  Of course, if I had finished with 1:55 in any other year (except the year the old record was set), I would have won the race. Go figure. ;-)

I can’t comment on the aid stations as I did not make use of them. I carried a handheld Nathan and didn’t even finish the 20 oz of Gatorade I began the race with. I took one GU and had a spare in my pocket, which I didn’t need either. I heard from others that the aid stations were wonderful, so that is great to hear. I am not surprised since every other aspect of the race was perfect. Matt’s only complaint about the aid stations was that they didn’t put mayo on the fried egg sandwiches. lol!!

Post race chow was great! The community center had lots of grub, both hot and cold food. In the morning there was oatmeal, coffee, muffins, cinnamon rolls, lots of fruit, peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, water, Gatorade, pop, cookies, etc.  Later in the day, they discontinued the oatmeal and muffins, but added in soup and chili. I definitely didn’t go hungry. The chili was amazing… Mmmm….

Land Between the Lakes Trail Run – HIGHLY recommended!!

LBL 23k finisher's key chain

March 10, 2011

Hanson's (un)Group Run

There are soooo many things I could say about this run. Oh boy. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

First we arrive to find the two shoe reps (Saucony and New Balance) standing outside in the cold with their boxes of wear test shoes. It was near dusk at this time and the ground was soaked. It wasn't raining or snowing, but it still had that "wet" feeling. Granted it would have been a little tight in the store with the two guys and their shoes, but it definitely could have worked. I'm still shaking my head. If I were these reps, I'd never offer to come back. That's not how you treat guests.

Next, we didn't get greeted by any of the regulars. I mentioned aloud to Matt at one point that we needed to try and find someone who was running our pace so we don't get lost. We're not familiar with Royal Oak's neighborhoods. One guy overheard me and asked our pace. I told him 8-9 min miles would work and he assured me that there would be plenty of people running that pace and not to worry. So I didn't. I guess I should have.

Out the door we went and immediately everyone took off at lightning fast speed. Are you kidding me!? It was all I could do to keep up. It wasn't an impossible speed, but usually I need to warm up to run like a cheetah!! Geez! We were stuck at that point since we didn't know the route. So this run turned into a tempo run without any warm-up or cool-down! Two days before a race, no less. Damn!

On to something positive. The whole reason we decided to drive down to Royal Oak was so Matt could test drive the NB Minimus and I could test the Saucony Kinvara. We were not disappointed! At least our rep boys came through for us! But I got one even better. The Saucony rep showed up with the Peregrine too!! YAY!!!! I've been wanting to try that shoe out so bad!! If only it were a trail run instead of a road run. Actually, the Peregrines weren't too bad on the road - just a tiny bit stiff. I loved them! Matt had good things to say about the Minimus too.

I know I said I'd do a shoe review for the NB 890 and Saucony Kinvara (now the Peregrine) and I will, but I still haven't packed for our trip to Kentucky and we're leaving at 6am! Eeep!! Gotta go!  Later!

March 7, 2011

Dear Kentucky, please be kind to us Northerners...

Yeeehaaaaw! (Sorry, but we're going to Kentucky this weekend. It kinda slipped.) That was a tough workout!  Just finished over an hour of Stairmastering. Felt great. Climbed 386 floors with an avg 93 steps/min, though I kept varying the step rate. I did a few 15 min sessions at 105 steps/min. At that rate it felt kinda like a tempo effort and I was sweating like a pig. I was a bit miffed that I forgot to grab a towel during this workout! Last "speed" session before my first trail race of the year - the Land Between the Lakes 23k! I'm ready! Will I break the course record...? Yet to be determined!

Did a nice little spin on the recumbent bike for a half hour after my Stairmaster sweatfest just to get a bit more easy-ish cardio in. I definitely had a little hard workout buzz going on when I was leaving the gym. Ahhhh... !!

Getting very excited to wear test the Kinvara on Thursday at Hanson's Royal Oak. Then I can do my shoe reviews for the NB 890 and Saucony Kinvara. Stay tuned...

March 6, 2011

HR Experiment - Fail!

Had trouble with my long spin session yesterday. The first 45 min were okay, then I blew up. I'm sure it is partly because I went out harder than I usually do for long rides - keeping my HR around 145, when I'm usually closer to 130. It was kind of an experiment after Jaime said she read somewhere that women our age should have our HR well over 140 for long rides. I was skeptical since I knew at that effort I'd have trouble talking normally. An hour in, I had to reduce my effort to a HR around 125-130 and then struggled with that!! After the experiment, I'm still convinced one formula does not work for all and that was way too hard an effort for a long ride. My right leg was giving me issues too. I really struggled even to do 2 hrs 45 min. Three hours (the original goal) was out of the question. No big deal since I'm still way ahead of my training schedule.
I got a kick out of the Garmin Connect map after uploading my long spin session. I used the Garmin only for timing and HR purposes, but forgot to put it on indoor mode, so it still tried to follow me with GPS. Here's what it looked like:


With the right leg issue, I'm taking a week off from running. I have races the next two weekends so I want to give the leg a chance to do some healing.

March 1, 2011

Stony Creek 20

First 20 miler of the year. GREAT! 3 GUs and 30 oz of Gatorade later, I'm feeling pretty good. Hip flexor did get a bit bothersome out there, so I'll hold off a few days before calling this run a total success, but I'm hopeful.  Matty and I headed out to Stony Creek Metropark and did 2 loops including the nature center out-and-back portion. That put us at 18.75 miles so we just kept going until our Garmins said 20. It was sunny and only slightly breezy with temps in the 30s. Not too bad! Finished in 2:45.

February 27, 2011

Spinning, Wear Testing and Racing - A Few of my Favorite Things

This is the way to do long spinning sessions - with pals and good movies! I packed up my gear and headed 2 miles down the road to Jaime's house where we put in 3 hours of spinning while watching Apollo 13. Jaime's distance sensor put her at 50 miles. I'm sure mine was less since she was on a CX bike and I was on Speedy (Trek hardtail MTB). Tried to keep the HR in the 120s and averaged 129. Not too bad. Took several much-needed rests (only 2-3 minutes) to stretch and give our rear ends a break from the saddle. Longest ride in a LONG time!

I'm very excited about the next few days/weeks! Tomorrow I get to test drive the new New Balance 890 at our Monday night group run. Then next Thursday I get to test the Saucony Kinvara. I will definitely give reviews of each. I just love testing new shoes! In fact, I just recently got accepted in the Brooks Wear Test Program.  Of course, when I start wear testing Brooks, there will be no reviews. The Brooks shoes will be shoes that haven't been released yet. Kind of exciting!

On Tuesday I will do my first 20-miler in AGES! I just love long runs! After this run I'll decide whether I want to do Running Fit's Trail Marathon on May 1st.  The run will kind of be the test. If I can handle that distance, I can do the marathon.... :-)

Finally, in two weeks, my race drought will be over! I've already done 2 races this year, but it still seems like forever! My next race on March 12 is the Land Between the Lakes 23k, a trail race down in Kentucky that I hear nothing but good things about. Matty will be doing the 50 mile race. We're both really looking forward to it. Race season is starting!! Yay!!

February 23, 2011

Da 'Mill of Recovery

Ran on da 'mill at LTF today side-by-side with my Matty. I did a very easy recovery run (6 miles at 9 min/mile) after yesterday's long run (17.6 miles) and Matty did another long run (he's training for an ultra). It was a lovely run that I didn't want to end with no residual soreness from the tough, slushy, hilly long run yesterday! Cool!

Strength training at the gym too! Let's see if I can remember what I did - SB plank, side plank with leg raises (ouch!), bicycle crunches, SB oblique crunches, Bosu single-leg bridges, SB pass, single-leg squats, eccentric calf drops, weighted back extensions, cable chest fly, triceps kick-back, biceps curl, DB shoulder sweeps, low cable row. I think that's it. I also did pull-ups, chin-ups and hanging leg raises at home while waiting for Matty to get ready for the gym. Phew! Always fun to show up the boys, though. lol!!

Later will be yet another attempt at Week 4, Day 2 of 100 Push-Ups Challenge.

February 20, 2011

Hills? Attack!

Matt talked me into doing a short run with him this morning. How could I say no?? For one thing, the snow is coming back. There's no stopping it. In fact, it is snowing as I type. But this morning, when Matt asked me to run with him, the sidewalks were perfectly clear. So I ran.

We took it easy to start, but as we approached a set of roller coaster hills along Miller Rd, we decided at the last minute to attack them for a little hill work. Felt good! I've never really done hill work before because I've never had healthy achilles. They've been feeling wonderful lately, so I thought, "why not??" It was a great workout!

We kept the distance short today. Six miles. Today is long ride day and I didn't want to tire myself out with running. My long ride hasn't gotten very long yet, but in a few weeks it'll grow to many hours on the bike. Today was only 2 hours. I watched Taken with Liam Neeson while riding. It was only so-so, but I've seen all the other movies in our collection a dozen times. I'm running out of movies! Ack! Time for a trip to Blockbuster to check out the used DVD shelves!

I suppose I should update on the 100 Push-Ups Challenge. I tried Week 4, Day 2 again the other day. I did worse than the first try. I'm guessing it'll take 2-3 more tries before I get through it! I have to do a total of 28 push-ups on set 5 to finish that day. Yikes.

February 18, 2011

Did someone mention wind?

Today at Stony Creek Metropark:

Gale force winds!!!! Holy crap!!!! This ride was so hard! I only went just over 12 miles, but felt like I rode triple that! I had to work so hard to pedal against the wind for most of this ride! When the wind wasn't blowing right at me, it was blowing from the right or left trying to knock me off my bike. I had to stop to take drinks because I'd get blown over if I took one hand off the handlebars. WOW! Notice I didn't mention any tail winds. That never happened. Ha!

Still, the temperature was pleasant and the wind, though crazy, was never cold. It was Speedy's first time outside this year. We both enjoyed it. :-)

After trying to ride my mountain bike in a tornado, I locked the bike on to the top of my car, changed into running shoes and went for an easy loop (plus Nature Center Dr) around Stony. I really enjoyed this run. It felt so good. Ahhh... It was still horribly windy, but it is so much easier to deal with wind on my feet rather than on my bike. I found myself leaning into the wind and taking shorter strides, almost like running uphill. I only had a problem with this technique once when I found myself daydreaming and the wind quit suddenly. I nearly fell over! lol!!!

February 17, 2011

Speedy Intervals on Speedy

Lumberjack 100  training has begun in earnest. Today was my first cycling speedwork session on the trainer. 25 minute warm-up followed by 5 x 3 minute mod-hard pushes and one final 5 minute push. HR was in high 150s for each push. Short cool-down for a total of just over 1 hour of riding. Nice. I'll start making these sessions harder and harder. Today really wasn't that hard, but it was a good start. Felt good too! :-)

Matty spun next to me on his way cool Trek Madone. We watched the Bourne Ultimatum during the workout. Another cycling movie date. hehe!

I did a short upper body strength training session while waiting for Matty to join me for the spinning. Got in DB chest press, DB incline shoulder press, pull-ups/chin-ups, triceps bench dip and one set of a few other random exercises. I didn't want to hurry Matt since he was reading The Lost Symbol. I just finished the book myself so now I'm anxiously waiting for him to finish so we can discuss! Keep reading, Matty!

February 16, 2011

I failed! It was great!

Just finished my 100 Push-Ups Challenge workout for the day. I failed! It was great!

I am very happy with what I DID accomplish during the workout. I didn't think I'd even get close. I only failed because I couldn't hit the minimum during the final set. I hit all the other sets though!
  • Set 1: 20
  • Set 2: 25
  • Set 3: 20
  • Set 4: 20
  • Set 5: Max (but at least 28) - I did 23.
I knew there was no way I'd hit 28. What I didn't expect was the ease with which I did sets 1-4. I am improving! Yay!

On a different note... since everyone else is chiming in, time for my 3 cents (inflation). I am quite happy with the new Boston registration process. I would have liked to see times lowered even further, especially for women, but I think the rolling registration will take care of that. Change is good!

I was going to use Detroit to qualify this fall, but it is in October, well after registration will close. However, the Marquette Marathon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is in the first week of September. Perfect timing! I absolutely LOVE that area. Now I have a wonderful excuse to get up there again!! Yay!

BTW... even with the new standards, New York is harder to qualify for, but you never hear anyone whining about New York.  ;-)

Hello, Sun!

Matty and I had a nice run this morning on the back roads around our house. It started off a little cloudy, but was bright and sunny by the time we were a mile into the run. We started off nice and easy and then hit Lake George's infamous hills, but kept up a nice pace to give our legs a bit of a challenge. Then we turned off Lake George and found a rare stretch of (relative) flat and picked the pace up each mile thereafter. It was a nice loop that will probably become a regular route. It'll be beautiful in the spring, summer and fall. Right now I still need microspikes for parts of the run, though the ice is quickly melting!! Yay!

  1. 9:11
  2. 8:53
  3. 8:51
  4. 8:48
  5. 8:42
  6. 8:26
  7. 8:18
  8. 7:53
Later today I'll attempt my next 100 Push-Ups Challenge workout. I don't have much hope that I'll complete it. It looks hellish! :-)  I'll update later today or tomorrow.

February 13, 2011

The "it would have been a shame not to" Run

I had already done a 1hr 45min indoor bike ride today and had no intention of adding in a run, when I walked by the weather station in our house and noticed the temp was well into the mid 40s!!! How could I NOT get outside?? It really would have been a shame. Then I realized it was after 4pm and I didn't know how much daylight I had left, so I quickly changed into running gear (only 1 layer today! woooo!) and headed for the car. I drove to Stony Creek Metropark with just enough time to do a 6 mile loop. My run VERY quickly morphed into a tempo run, though that wasn't my initial intention. My legs were itching to run fast and my mind decided to let them. :-)

  • 7:45
  • 7:18
  • 7:18
  • 7:20
  • 7:08
  • 6:36
I was rewarded at the end with an amazing sunset during my walking cool-down which just became more amazing during my drive home. The whole western sky was on fire.

February 9, 2011

I made up a word.

Cycling day! I did 1.5 hours easy spinning on Speedy. Feeling the hip flexor a bit, so taking it easy. Time to ice and naproxenize.


100 push-ups workout - Week 3, Day 3:
  • Set 1 - 16
  • Set 2 - 21
  • Set 3 - 15
  • Set 4 - 15
  • Set 5 - Max (I did 22.)
Peeked at next week's workout, day 1. Not looking forward to it. For Set 5, I'm supposed to do a minimum of 25. Ouch.

February 8, 2011

Make it a half marathon, please.

Ran on da 'mill at the gym side-by-side with my Matty today. We both had plans to run 10-12ish miles, but near the end we decided to make it a half marathon. Easy to do on the 'mill. You just keep going! I ran at an easy pace (1:51 total time). No need for more speedwork this week. The 5k took care of that!

Matty was supposed to do core work with me afterwards, but he pooped out and went to his pizzeria to wait for me (that we own and which also happens to be right behind the gym!). I did about 45 min of core work with a little upper body and legs thrown in.  Feeling good about my accomplishments today. Now it is time to watch Ironman 2!

February 6, 2011

Super 5k - Novi, MI

First in Age Group! Yay! (7th or 8th overall, depending on which results page you look at *shrug*) Let's see, I predicted I'd finish sometime around 20:30 and I nailed 20:30 exactly on the dot. Too bad I don't gamble. I'm thinking - take off a few seconds for hills, a few more for slush and several more for the icy, 180 degree turn around and that gives me a good idea of where my fitness is and how hard I have to work to break 19:00 by the end of September. I can do it!


Got to meet lots of cool people! Missed a few people I was hoping to meet! Saw lots of friends - many of whom were awesome enough to volunteer. Had a great time! I love racing!! :-)

February 4, 2011

Spinning to Chicken Run

Got in a great spinning session on Speedy today while watching the movie Chicken Run (hilarious). Disciplined myself to keep my effort easy. My heart rate was between 120-125 the entire time. I sure wish I had a distance/cadence sensor on my bike. I have no idea how far I rode. I only know my time was 1 1/2 hrs. I suppose it is just as useful to train by time and come spring, I can start keeping track of distance again. Or I can break down and buy a sensor for my bike! :-)  Nah, I'd rather use the money to buy race registrations!

No running today. No running tomorrow. Super 5k race Sunday. Two rest days before the big test. That's how I'm thinking of it, anyway. I'm very excited!

I did another workout from the 100 push-up challenge. The workout itself was a challenge! But I did it. I didn't do the pull-up workout. There's a little twinge between my shoulder blades and I figured push-ups was enough! :-)  The workout looked like this:

  • Set 1  -  12 push ups
  • Set 2  -  17 push ups
  • Set 3  -  13 push ups
  • Set 4  -  13 push ups
  • Set 5  -  Max out  (I did 19)

Phew! I was feeling that one! :-)

Sent in my passport renewal paperwork today so I will be ready to run the Detroit Marathon this fall. Running across the bridge into Canada means lots of security measures for this marathon! It is worth it though!
GO PACK!!!!!

February 3, 2011

Ahhh... nice and easy run.

Nice, easy Lifetime Fitness treadmill run next to Matty (He did 24 miles - craziness). I slowly picked up the pace, but never went faster than 8 min/miles (started at 9:05). Hip flexor and adductors a bit tight, but no pain. I did some gentle stretching after the run. Taking the next two days pre-Super 5k off from running. Gotta get spinning anyway! Lumberjack 100 is coming... !!!

February 2, 2011

100 push-ups, 50 pull-ups?

Cross training day!

I did one hour of nice and easy spinning on Speedy (my Trek 6700 hardtail mountain bike) on the indoor trainer today. I popped in the Transformers 2 movie and watched the first half of it - always makes time on the trainer go by faster. (And you think treadmills are boring???) Unlike running, I can actually wear a HR strap while cycling. I had it on today and kept my HR between 125-135. I think that's about right!

After a few hours rest, I did a full body strength training session focusing on core, hips and glutes. I loved the hip/glute strength training ideas from the latest Rrunner's World print edition - March 2011 (pgs 42-43). I do many of them regularly already. I'd never seen the one with the resistance band around the knee (three way leg raise), so I gave it a try today. Great exercise! It gets the glutes, flexors and abductors all at once! Plus the leg I'm standing on gets worked just trying to balance - stabilizer muscles firing away! I definitely recommend that exercise and all the others on that page as well.

Playing around online after logging my workout today, I came across the 100 push-up challenge again. I'd played around with the idea of doing it before, but I just may commit to it this time. There is also a 50 pull-up challenge. I wonder if I could do both at once. Right now I can do 23 push-ups and 9 pull-ups, so I have a long way to go!  I already made a log to track my progress. I might as well take the plunge! Wish me luck! (Maybe a certain pizza maker will do it with me???)  ;-)

February 1, 2011

Pre-Storm Long Run - We did it!

Matt and I wanted to get a nice, long run in before the storm. It was great! We drove just a few miles away from the downtown area and parked at Bald Mountain. Then we ran 10ish miles and looped back to the car. We fueled up and then headed out for another 7.5ish miles. It was nice to not have to carry anything with us and still get a long run in on the awesome Orion back roads. It is so hilly around here that long runs turn into hill runs, so we got a great strength workout for our legs along with the endurance workout from a long run. Perfect! Now we can relax and watch the snow fall...

Lumberjack 100 registration in 6 hours! Ahhh!!! The countdown has begun. I'm already nervous.

January 31, 2011

Run, then Grub

Made the 25 mile drive to Novi's Running Fit store tonight for the Monday night group run. Finally made myself hold back and just ran easy for a whole 7 mile route. Wow, I actually CAN run easy!  ;-) Had a great run with Farra and Rick, pals I don't get to see often enough. Afterwards we headed to Gus O'Connor's for some grub and laughs. Always worthwhile.

First outside run with the NB 759s. The first thing I noticed is they breathe very well. Almost too well. My feet were chilly until we got going! Good fit and comfy in the forefoot, but a little heel slip in the back. I probably shouldn't do anything real long in them. No biggie. They were a steal, after all. (No, not literally.)  hehe!!  And I still have my Launches for the long runs. You know, the Brooks Launch, the world's most perfect running shoe. Why do I even bother with any other???  :-)

January 30, 2011

Taking the Speed Indoors

I headed to the gym for a treadmill speed session today. There are no indoor tracks that I know about around here, so if I want to do intervals in the winter, to the gym I go! It really isn't so bad to run on the treadmill when you're doing intervals since the speedwork breaks up the monotony.

The workout: 
  • 2 mile warm-up
  • 2 miles @ 6:58 min/mile
  • 1/2 mile recover
  • 1 mile @ 6:39
  • 1/2 mile recover
  • 1/2 mile @ 6:27
  • 2 mile cool-down

It was a great workout! I found this workout online somewhere quite a while ago but this is the first time I decided to give it a go. It is kind of a mix between an interval workout and a tempo run. I like it and it is well-suited for treadmills. It was hard and tells me I have a long way to go to break 19 min in a 5k, though treadmill paces always feel harder, so it is hard to judge accurately. My 5k race in one week will be the real indicator.

January 29, 2011

Spartacus II

Yoooowwweeeeee!!! That was HARD! This time I set my watch to beep after one minute and again after 15 seconds, over and over, so I couldn't cheat. It is amazing how fast 15 seconds goes by. And they call it a "rest"???? I barely had time to set down my dumbbells and grab another pair before I had to start the next exercise. Boy was I overestimating 15 seconds the first time I did this! I made it through all 3 sets somehow!

Cozy Couch vs. Snowy Run

Thank goodness for running friends who keep us accountable for getting our butts out the door on mornings like this - when you wake up to a fresh 3 inches of snow!  If I didn't have a run planned with Jaime and Matt, I'm not sure I would have made it. I was so cozy sitting on the couch, wrapped in my blanket with a mug of hot coffee... but I got up, put on my running capris and fun, brightly colored Smartwool ski socks, blindingly yellow Brooksie Way race shirt with a blue vest, hat, gloves and Kahtoolas (yes, I looked a little like a clown) and headed for the Bald Mountain trails for a 9 mile run in the fresh snow. It was tough, but I'm glad I did it. Now back to that couch, blanket and my second mug of hot coffee....  I deserve it. 

January 27, 2011

I love Michigan!

On, a social training website, for each workout you log how you felt during the run, ride, weight training session, etc.  Today I would have given my workout a "great" rating, but was unable to because my legs are so trashed from the Spartacus workout yesterday! This run was so painful! lol!!  I was happy that some of the soreness worked itself out by about halfway through the run, but it didn't totally go away.  That's what an hour of squats and lunges will do!

Otherwise my run was great. The first few miles I tried running with Matty, but he kept lagging behind even though I tried stopping and letting him catch up a few times. It just wasn't going to work. So I eventually took off and ran my own pace. It was still "easy", just a much faster "easy".  I did 8 miles altogether. The first 4 I ran with Matty I averaged 10:30 min/mile, painfully slow for me. The last 4 miles I averaged 8:30 min/mile. That's more like it.

We ran the back roads around our area. It's so beautiful out here. All the roads are dirt with rolling hills and lots of trees and lakes. Now they are covered with ice and snow and the lakes are frozen. It is still beautiful, just a different kind of beautiful. My Kahtoola spikes let me run the icy backroads with 100% confidence of no slipping. I wish I had discovered them years ago.

January 26, 2011

Moderate Spin on Speedy

I've been neglecting the bike since I've been able to run more and more miles. I've also been lazy about bringing my bike back upstairs and setting it up on the trainer. I have no trouble running or riding for hours on end, but I drag my feet about a simple chore of setting up my bike? What's up with that!? :-) Anyway, I was afraid I'd have trouble with my ride today, but I didn't. It was great! I did my spinning session at an effort slightly harder than "easy" and kept it there for the entire hour (while watching the Transformers movie). Distance can only be a guess (~17 miles?) and unimportant. I'm glad my rear end has not forgotten how a bike saddle feels. That was my biggest concern. lol!!

I need to become more consistent on the bike as I have a 100 mile mountain bike race in mid-June! I definitely don't want to show up at the start line unprepared!


Kick butt workout!!!! Matt and I did this workout together. For those who don't know, the Spartacus Workout is a circuit of 10 exercises using only body weight or dumbbells. The sets are done for 1 minute each, with 15 sec rest between exercises. Then rest 2 minutes between each of 3 rounds.

The first round I erred on the side of too light weights. I thought, this isn't too bad. Then for the second round I grabbed heavier weights and had my butt handed to me. lol!! The second two rounds were awesomely hard. Several times I could not finish the one minute sets. I'm sure I'll feel this tomorrow. It was my first try at a circuit type strength training workout. I loved it!

I did notice this workout is heavy on the legs, back, shoulders and tris, but very light on biceps and chest. I think I'll add a few curls and maybe a chest press or fly to make up for that. I do love that several exercises are done in the push-up position, which is basically a modified plank, so the core gets a great workout too.

January 25, 2011

Stony Creek Loops with Matty

Ahhh... it finally warmed up. Funny how a streak of sub-zero windchill can make 25 degrees feel balmy. ;-) Had a great run out at Stony Creek Metropark with my hubby. The temperature was perfect - very comfortable. Finally, I didn't have to cringe every time the wind blew and I could still feel my lips afterward! lol! We did two loops with only a very short break in between to down a GU and some Powerade.

Met a nice gal named Kara who runs with a group called "Your Pace or Mine". She said it is a huge running group in the area. I'm surprised I've not heard of it.

My legs started getting sore today around mile nine. I wonder if I'm still feeling the effects of the race on Saturday (15 miles). It is hard to tell since I'm just getting back into running. It could just as easily be my body telling me it had a long break from running and 12 miles is not a short run anymore! Ha!

Put in a nice spurt at the end. Started slowly picking it up during the last mile and then did near 95% effort for the final 100 yards. Matt kicked my butt.  I didn't stand a chance.  :-)

Less than 2 weeks to the Super 5k!! I'm excited to see where my fitness is at. I'm basically using this race as a test. I want to break 19 minutes in a 5k by the end of the year. This is my first 5k of the year to see how far I have to go. I'll run it all out.  My 5k PR is 19:37, but that was over a year ago and I missed an entire season in between due to injury. I doubt I'll even be under 20 this time. I'm betting I'll be closer to 20:30. It'll be a long, hard training season, but I can do it!

January 24, 2011

Late Night Recovery Run

Met up with Matty at Lifetime Fitness after he got out of work Sunday night around 10:30pm. We ran side by side on the treadmills and did nice, easy recovery runs (8:45 min/mile) from the race Saturday night. Felt good. It was also my first run in my new NB 759s which I picked up super cheap at the NB store in Troy. They were having a big sale plus I had a $15 off coupon for early Freep (Detroit Marathon) registration. Yay!! The shoes were nice and cushy soft. I love cush. There was just the tiniest amount of heel slip. Let's hope that does not become a problem on longer runs. If so, they will be relegated to short runs.

The best running shoe ever still remains the Brooks Launch. 

January 23, 2011

Winter Wolf 2011 - Race Report

Long time, no posts. After 3 injuries and nearly 10 months of no running, I thought I'd begin again with my first race report. Here goes...

Winter Wolf 2011 is in the books. It was my second time running the race and my second time winning the race. WOOT!! 

A brief description - this 15 mile race is run at night in the middle-of-nowhere Michigan. Most of the running surface is snow and ice covered two-track and dirt roads. There is a small section of wooded trail and also some paved roads. Head lamps and tail lights are required...

This year was much more brutal than last. My time was 13 minutes slower than last year’s result. Part of it was less training (only had about 1 ½ months of running after almost 10 months off), but I think most of it was the conditions. It was MUCH colder this year (single digit air temp with windchill below zero), and there was more snow on the ground. The two-track last year was very runnable. This year – not so much. There were quite literally only two narrow tire tracks to run in and the ground in those tracks was uneven and took total concentration. It was quite the balancing act – like trying to run on a tightrope. I can only imagine what I would have looked like to a passerby stumbling down the lane as fast as I could with arms flailing around!

Once off the two-track and onto roads, the conditions improved considerably. I never would have thought I'd be so happy to get onto pure, clear ice! Kahtoola microspikes saved the day again! (Had to get in another plug!) The road running was fairly easy and here I was finally able to relax a bit and get into a running groove, have a GU or two (once they warmed up in my mitten for a few minutes – they were almost frozen!) and take a drink.

Thank GOD the creek was frozen this year. I had a helluva time crossing that wobbly plank last year due to my fear of heights. The plank was there again, but it wasn’t necessary. I wasn’t going to test the frozenness of the creek at first, but as it turned out, my clumsy feet made the decision for me. As I was moving down the slope toward the plank, I lost my balance and my legs, of their own accord and to keep me from falling, steered me right on to the ice!! ACK!! That would have ended badly any other year…

My lack of training caught up with me between miles 11 and 12. I could feel fatigue and the desire to walk (or just stop) creep in. This was when the race became a mental battle. I am happy to say I won that battle. I did allow myself to slow a bit, but refused to walk. I searched frantically for autopilot, found it, and focused on something else (anything else!) besides the pain. It worked. It also made me realize I have a lot of work ahead of me to get ready for Detroit this fall. I have a lot of time though!

I did a good job choosing running gear for the race because I was entirely comfortable the whole time. I had three layers on my core and arms including a fleece layer and wind-resistant jacket, two layers on my legs with mid-weight running tights and windpants over them, a wool hat with facemask and a hood. My Outdoor Research mittens kept my hands toasty and Smartwool socks rocked my happy feet. Did I mention I wore my Kahtoola microspikes? My only reminders of how cold it really was came when my water turned to slush (which was completely predictable) and when I found I could not talk at the end of the race. My lips were not in my control! lol!

The best part about races like this is meeting up with friends and there were plenty there! Perhaps not as many as last year, but the ones who showed were quality (that’s for you, Mark) and hardcore!! What an awesome race!!

Oh, and I learned a very important fact – banana skin will turn completely brown when it gets cold enough. I started with a yellow banana and by the end of the night after sitting in my Subaru – brown, all brown. Poor thing.

 Photo of my overall female award and Matty's 2nd in AG award
"Cats are like greatness: Some people are born into cat-loving families, some achieve cats, and some have cats thrust upon them." -William H. A. Carr

red's 2011 race schedule